This is the Hoka Clifton 8 review that you’ve all been waiting for.
I’m going to talk about the fit & feel, the upper, the heel, the midsole, and the outsole.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it…
Hoka Clifton 8 Review
Hoka has made a few changes from last year’s version both to the upper as well as the midsole. The Clifton 8 is a neutral road shoe that I ordered true to size.
It comes in at 8.9 oz for men’s size 9 on my scales or 252 grams.
Hoka has the Clifton listed as being balanced in terms of the amount of cushion that you have in the midsole. This means that it’s falling somewhere between a responsive ride and a plush ride.
But for me, it tends to feel a little bit more like it’s creeping towards that plush side of the spectrum of that scale.
I’m going to start with the fit and the feel first…
Fit & Feel
I found the toe box to provide plenty of room for me to be able to splay my toes. It was really comfortable that way.
Sometimes in Hoka shoes, that lateral side of the shoe can get pretty aggressive in the arch or the curve that they have there. Also, that material can rub up against the lateral side of my foot, but I didn’t have that issue with the Clifton 8.
I was able to get locked in and secure pretty quickly and easily across the midfoot section of the shoe using that eyelet chain. The good lockdown was in part because they’ve reinforced that midsection of the shoe, which takes a bit of that stretch out of it.
So, I guess it wasn’t very difficult at all to be able to get cinched in and locked down and secure across that midfoot all the way back to the heel cup.
Comparing the lockdown of the Hoka Clifton to that of the Nike Pegasus 38, I found the Pegasus to provide better lockdown thanks to the shoe’s banded eyelet chain. For more details, you can check our Hoka Clifton 8 vs Nike Pegasus 38 comparison.
Then, the Clifton has a nice pocket for your heel to set in really comfortably.
Hoka uses an engineered mesh material which is really soft to the touch and it feels really terrific against your skin.
Then in the toe box, the shoe has lots of perforations there but they’ve scaled them back from the Clifton 7. This takes some of that stretch that we got out of that Clifton 7, but in this case, I think that’s a really good thing.
There are times in the Clifton 7 where I had to stop and cinch my laces up just a little bit tighter to continue to get that nice snug lockdown feeling across the midfoot. Well, I haven’t had that issue with the Clifton 8.
As we move around to the side of the shoe, while they still have those perforations there, they just aren’t as big or as aggressive as the ones in the previous model.
Before I move on, I want to talk about another factor that I think helps to contribute to getting that locked-in and secure feeling across the midfoot section of the Clifton 8 that I found to be a little bit easier to achieve than it was in the Clifton 7.
As I flip these shoes over, we can see that they made a few changes to the geometry of the shoe. They’ve actually narrowed it up a bit in the midfoot section as well as in the heel. I think that allows the upper to not have to take up quite so much volume to get your foot locked in and secure across that midfoot section all the way back to the heel cup.
So, I feel like the upper now wraps around your foot rather than draping over it and, again, it just feels a little bit more snug and secure than it did in the Clifton 7.
My only concern is that it might be running just a little bit warm as the weather gets hotter. Right now, it gets around 70 and sometimes pushing close to 80 degrees and I found these to be somewhat breathable. I wouldn’t say that they’re overly breathable, but they do allow some airflow to go through and I think that that padded extra padding on the tongue might inhibit that just a little bit.
The eyelet chain is pretty standard. I’d say it’s a classic style with no big wow factor. The eyelets do have some plastic overlays both on the outside as well as on the inside cage area to help just give it a little bit of durability.
They did include that extra eyelet in case you want to run with the runner’s knot. I don’t always do that, but it’s sure nice to have that option should I want to.
The tongue is well padded. In fact, they’ve added a little more padding from last year’s version of the shoe. I’m not sure that they necessarily needed to, but it’s really comfortable.
The tongue is a semi-gusseted tongue with a loop to run your laces through. I didn’t have any issues though with it migrating around. It’s not going anywhere and it lays flat across my foot.
The padded tongue is really comfortable and I never felt the laces across the top of my midfoot digging in.
Again, I think Hoka did a nice job with the tongue, but I’m just not sure if they needed to add quite so much padding there.
There’s plenty of padding around the heel collar and the heel tab. I often call this a pillow-style padding because it is kind of like a pillow around the collar of this shoe.
The Hoka Clifton 8 also features a nice anatomically correct Achilles heel flare which I found to be super comfortable. And since the shoe doesn’t have a pull tab, you can use that flare to help get your shoes on should you want to.
Let’s take a look at the heel counter and see how much structure it has back there.
As we work our way around back to the heel counter, there’s not much going on there. The Clifton 8 does have the Hoka logo back on toward the heel counter, but other than that, not much else is going on.
I gave the heel collar the pinch test to see how much resistance there is. I found the heel counter to have a ton of resistance. There’s lots of material back there to help hold your heel in place and give you a nice stable feeling when you’re out running.
Also, adding to that stable feeling, they brought that EVA foam up quite high onto the upper of the shoe.
Hoka did include a removable insole and I always appreciate that. It’s nice to be able to just pull those out, clean them up and put them back in so you’re good to go the next time you want to run. Or, if you want to customize your fit and put your own insole in, it’s just nice to have those come out so easily.
Also, they used an Ortholite insole so it just adds a little bit of cushion and softness to your run.
Now, let’s talk about the bread and butter of the Hoka Clifton 8.
The midsole features a compression-molded EVA foam and there’s a lot of it. There’s a 29-millimeter stack height in the heel and 24 millimeters up in the forefoot for that 5-millimeter offset from the heel to the toe.
If you’ve not experienced the Hoka Clifton series before, you’ll find this EVA to be soft and cushioned and fun to run in.
However, this EVA is not mushy and in fact, there’s a lot of responsiveness there.
There’s a couple of features I just want to point out to you…
Starting in the heel, the Clifton has got a slight heel bevel and that’s just to help with the natural feeling from your foot strike through to your toe-off. So, if you’re a heel striker, I think you’re going to find that that’s going to be really comfortable.
Also, they’ve extended that heel out just a bit and that’s a crash zone. Then, the EVA foam back in this heel is pretty squishy. So, again, if you’re a heel striker, I think you might find that to be pretty comfortable to run in.
Also, the Hoka Clifton 8 has an early-stage meta rocker. I wouldn’t say that this is overly aggressive, but Hoka is known for this early-stage meta rocker.
This simply means that they started sculpting that foam right about at the start of the metatarsal head so it makes it nice and smooth for you to roll through your gait cycle.
This might not be a big deal for you, but runners with Hallux Rigidus just crave shoes with a forefoot curvature.
I’ve always enjoyed that and I don’t find that this is overly aggressive in terms of that rocker geometry. I do find it comfortable and fun to run in.
Let’s take a look at the outsole and see how it’s protecting all that soft EVA foam that you have in that midsole.
You can see the Hoka Clifton running shoes has got plenty of blown rubber to protect all of that EVA foam to give it some longevity.
Hoka did change the pattern a little bit. They’ve got the rubber pattern in the forefoot running kind of on a diagonal, and then they have it in the high-abrasion area that you’re going to find around in the heel as well.
Also, as we look at that outsole, you can see that they’ve changed that groove a bit that’s in the heel and runs up to the forefoot.
I think it’s gotten a little bit deeper and maybe just a bit more aggressive. I think that might add to that feeling that I get sometimes in that heel area of being just a little bit squishy.
I think Hoka One One did a nice job with the changes that they made to the upper. I found it really easy to get a nice locked-down feeling across the midfoot section.
With the tweaks that they made to the geometry of the shoe, it just feels a little more streamlined and being a little thinner in the midsection as well as in the heel, which feels really comfortable.
Also, they did change that EVA midsole foam to make it lighter and more responsive. I do feel like I’m getting a little more energy return than I did in the Clifton 7.
Last but not least, if you enjoy running in the Clifton 7, I think you’ll like the changes that they made to the Clifton 8.
They made a good shoe just a little bit better.
Thanks for making it to the end of this Hoka Clifton 8 review. See you on the next one.